Lilley 205 – 2, 29.1 overs (McLaughlin 101, Khan 51 not out) beat Graveley 204 – 9, 40 overs (Baynes 67, Khan 4 – 37) by 8 wkts.
After a week in which simply getting a team together was a struggle, Lilley notched their third league win of the season with an ultimately comfortable 8 wkt victory against table-topping Graveley.
Such a margin of victory, or a victory of any sort, seemed unlikely as Graveley, after winning the toss and opting to bat first, raced to 75/2 in their first 10 overs. This start followed the recent pattern of the opposition batting first at Lilley and going off like an absolute train. Charlie Logan opening the batting was dismissive of anything short and wide or too full, particularly punishing debutant Dar’s opening 4 over burst as the bowler, despite producing a number of fantastic, deliveries struggled to settle up the hill. From the other end Khurram Khan celebrated the end of Ramadan with 2 wickets in his first 6 overs – clean bowling Wraight for 4 and then producing a false shot form Logan as he top-edged an attempted pull with keeper Mark Scanlan to take a skier behind the stumps. Relief all round that the catch was held and the opener was on his way back to the pavilion.
Lilley set about pulling back the run rate and chipping away with the wickets with an excellent display in the field and with the ball. This despite fielding possibly one of the oldest teams in recent years – Chairman Ashby being surprised to realize that there were 6 players older than he was! Indeed it was tight bowling from youngster-for-the-day Ashby along with Dan McLaughlin that began to drag Lilley back into the contest. Though Ashby went wicketless it was an important spell. McLaughlin picked up 2 wickets in his 8 over spell – squeezing a yorker under the bat of Cartwright to bowl him and inducing the thinnest of edges from top scorer Baynes to see him caught behind for a 67 that had held the innings together. To the batsmen’s credit he walked immediately despite the umpire later admitting he hadn’t heard the nick.
Marcus Chalkley replaced Ashby down the hill and despite not quite finding his usual miserly top of off stump line and length picked up the wicket of with Ashby taking what will probably be the catch of the season by snaffling a one-hander, diving at a wide first slip to remove Barnham for 1. Ejaz was given a rare bowl up the hill but put together a controlled 4 over burst that only went for 9 runs and also bagged a wicket, giving Scanlan a third catch behind the stumps. Khan and Dar returned to finish off their spells and try to wrap up the innings. Wickets fell – Khan bowling two batsmen and Dar picking up a wicket as yet another Cartwright played on via bat and both pads for a nuggety 30 – and some late order slogging ensured a busy last few overs. Lilley, however, fell just short of picking up a bowling point as League Chairman Steve Brown controversially opted to block out the last few balls. Graveley finished on 203/9. A competitive score no doubt but a great effort from Lilley to pull it back after the start Graveley had made.
All enjoyed the wonderful tea and in some fine late afternoon summer sun James Ashby and Dan McLaughlin made their way out to the middle aiming to give Lilley a good start to the chase. And indeed they got off to a flier against the opening bowlers. While both batsmen enjoyed the ball coming onto the bat Ashby was quickest out of the blocks, opening his account with a flurry of boundaries. McLaughlin soon joined in the fun and the 50 partnership came up within the 8 overs bowled by the opening bowlers. Graveley decided that the best way to counter this was to take the pace off the ball and this soon accounted for Ashby as he edged the spin of J Cartwright to Logan at slip for a nice 27.
However if Graveley thought this opening meant they were in with a chance of stifling the run rate they were quite mistaken as Khurram Khan quickly got into his stride with sound defense interspersed with fine attacking strokes. McLaughlin and Khan put on a fine display of batting, pretty much matching each other boundary for boundary and quickly made a potentially tricky run chase seem easy. The 100 partnership between these two took only 12 overs to bring up and by this point the game was pretty much over as a contest. Under such a barrage Graveley’s fielding became ragged and the few chances that the batsmen offered were put down – including one on the boundary under the pressure of heckling from an enthusiastic group of young supporters from a party at the nearby village hall.
McLaughlin was eventually out caught behind to a tired shot the ball after he’d brought up a wonderful century with yet another boundary, by which time Khan had reached his own fifty. This meant Dar came to the crease with only a few runs required and the debutant wasted no time in knocking off the runs. Lilley had chased down 204 in only 29.1 overs for the loss of just 2 wickets. A fantastic result based on an excellent team performance in the field and brilliant all round performances from both McLaughlin (2-48 and 101) and Khan (4-37 and 51 not out).
Being the fine bunch of lads they are Graveley were gracious and good-natured in defeat and joined a number of us at the Lilley Arms for beer and banter. A fine afternoon’s cricket played in the right spirit in some lovely weather.